Genre: Action/Sci-Fi
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: John David Washington, Madeleine Yuna Voyles, Gemma Chan, Allison Janney, Ken Watanabe, Sturgill Simpson, Amar Chadha-Patel, Marc Menchaca, Robbie Tann, Ralph Ineson, Michael Esper, Veronica Ngo
Runtime: 2 hr 13 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence and Coarse Language)
Released By: Wait Disney
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 28 September 2023

Synopsis: Amid a future war between the human race and the forces of artificial intelligence, Joshua, a hardened ex-special forces agent grieving the disappearance of his wife, is recruited to hunt down and kill the Creator, the elusive architect of advanced AI who has developed a mysterious weapon with the power to end the war-and mankind itself.

Movie Review:

Whether sheer coincidence or prescience, ‘The Creator’ arrives at an incredibly timely juncture when the world is finally confronting the possibilities and perils of Artificial Intelligence (AI). As imagined by writer-director Gareth Edwards, humanity will embrace AI as companion in almost every area of daily life, until a nuclear explosion destroys Los Angeles in the mid-2070s, prompting the United States to outlaw AI and declare war with the androids. Meanwhile, the super-continent of New Asia sees no impetus to follow the same, therefore pitting the United States against the polyglot nation where flesh and metal continue to co-exist in peace.

The parallels with today’s geopolitical realities are unambiguous, but it would be a mistake to assume that Edwards’ intent is to pontificate about these realities. Instead, after an intriguing world-building prologue, Edwards settles into a surprisingly intimate narrative that revolves around a special forces operative (John David Washington) and the target he was assigned to surveil (Gemma Chan). To be sure, Maya (Chan) doesn’t appear much in the film except in flashbacks, because when we first meet Joshua (Washington), his bliss with Maya, with whom he is expecting a baby, is shattered when the seaside village they are living in is raided at pre-dawn by the US military.  

Five years turns out to be barely enough to heal any wounds, and it is for the hope of finding out what had happened to Maya that Joshua accepts an offer from Colonel Howard (Allison Janney) to lead a team into New Asia and destroy a weapon dubbed Alpha-O. As it turns out, the so-called weapon is a 6-year old girl (newcomer Madeleine Yuna Voyles), who possesses the ability to control any form of technology with her mind. Instead of obeying orders to kill the girl he nicknames Alphie, Joshua ends up protecting her from Howell in the hopes that she will lead him to Maya.

There is a lot of plot to get through – including just who the architect of New Asia’s AI advancements called ‘Nirmata’ is, how Maya and Alphie are related to ‘Nirmata’, and why Alphie poses such a threat to the all-powerful US military’s mammoth spaceship NOMAD (or North American Orbital Mobile Aerospace Defense) – and over the course of slightly more than two hours, Edwards has fashioned a breathless thriller across various visually remarkable locations, whether rustic villages of paddy fields and corrugated metal houses or Blade Runner-ish cyberpunk cityscapes.

Yet those who have seen Edwards’ previous movies, including the low-budget ‘Monster’ and the 2014 reboot of ‘Godzilla’, will probably realise that his latest is his most emotionally mature and layered yet. Edwards splits the story into three separate chapters – namely, ‘The Child’, ‘The Mother’ and ‘The Friend’ – and each is titled to reflect a particular theme or idea in the film. It is also notable that Edwards offers Washington quite possibly his most vivid character in recent memory, especially in how Joshua comes to terms with Maya’s fate and his role in relation to Alphie, and in turn, the sometimes unreliable Washington rewards the richly written role with one of his best performances here.

Besides its emotional and visual depth, there is also much to admire about its thematic richness. Edwards doesn’t disguise his views about American imperiousness and imperialism, especially with striking images of US troops threatening and then executing helpless villagers – whether human or synthetic – at gunpoint. It is equally obvious that Edwards is also making a statement about AI, addressing our fears and proposing a vision where we can live harmoniously with our own creations, albeit with accommodation and mutual respect. And last but not least, Edwards invites us to reflect on how we deal with ‘the other’, be it people who share different views from us, who look different from us, or even those of a different species or kind.

It may not be wholly original, but even though it borrows from other classics such as ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Apocalypse Now’ and even Steven Spielberg’s ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence’, ‘The Creator’ has plenty of inspiration to offer a relevant, poignant and insightful rumination on how we might interact with AI in the future and how our world might thus be divided by that game-changing technology. That Edwards has developed a heartfelt, sensitive story at the centre of it all makes it even more impressive, which alongside its stirring visuals, ensures that this epic is consistently dazzling, exhilarating and ultimately uplifting.

Movie Rating:

(Consistently dazzling, exhilarating and ultimately uplifting, 'The Creator' is science-fiction for both the head and the heart, and that connects beautifully with the zeitgeist)

Review by Gabriel Chong


You might also like:


Movie Stills